Read Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies by Kristie Miller Online


The wives of Woodrow Wilson were strikingly different from each other. Ellen Axson Wilson, quiet and intellectual, died after just a year and a half in the White House and is thought to have had little impact on history. Edith Bolling Wilson was flamboyant and confident but left a legacy of controversy. Yet, as Kristie Miller shows, each played a significant role in the WhThe wives of Woodrow Wilson were strikingly different from each other. Ellen Axson Wilson, quiet and intellectual, died after just a year and a half in the White House and is thought to have had little impact on history. Edith Bolling Wilson was flamboyant and confident but left a legacy of controversy. Yet, as Kristie Miller shows, each played a significant role in the White House.Miller presents a rich and complex portrait of Wilson's wives, one that compels us to reconsider our understanding of both women. Ellen comes into clear focus as an artist and intellectual who dedicated her talents to an ambitious man whose success enabled her to have a significant influence on the institution of the first lady. Miller's assessment of Edith Wilson goes beyond previous flattering accounts and critical assessments. She examines a woman who overstepped her role by hiding her husband's serious illness to allow him to remain in office. But, Miller concludes, Edith was acting as she knew her husband would have wished.Miller explains clearly how these women influenced Woodrow Wilson's life and career. But she keeps her focus on the women themselves, placing their concerns and emotions in the foreground. She presents a balanced appraisal of each woman's strengths and weaknesses. She argues for Ellen's influence not only on her husband but on subsequent first ladies. She strives for an understanding of the controversial Edith, who saw herself as Wilson's principal advisor and, some would argue, acted as shadow president after his stroke. Miller also helps us better appreciate the role of Mary Allen Hulbert Peck, whose role as Wilson's "playmate" complemented that of Ellen--but was intolerable to Edith.Especially because Woodrow Wilson continues to be one of the most-studied American presidents, the task of recognizing and understanding the influence of his wives is an important one. Drawing extensively on the Woodrow Wilson papers and newly available material, Miller's book answers that call with a sensitive and compelling narrative of how private and public emotions interacted at a pivotal moment in the history of first ladies....

Title : Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780700617371
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 360 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies Reviews

  • Brisbride13
    2019-04-03 09:39

    Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The first part which covered the meeting, courting and married life of Ellen and Woodrow was hard for me to put down. Once Ellen dies and part 2 begins the book starts to slow down and my interest waned and to be honest, after Woodrow's marriage to his second wife Edith, I had to force myself to finish. From chapt 4 to chapt 7 could have been a biography about the president and that is not what ^ wanted to read about. However I have to be fair to the author and consider the fact that Edith and Woodrow had no children and their marriage did take place smack dab in the middle of his presidency, so there was little else for Edith to do but be a first lady. The author did a wonderful job when she wrote about these two women and I enjoyed learning about them, but had I known that much of the book really is about Woodrow's presidency and how supportive Edith was I probably wouldnt have chose another book about these first ladies.

  • Kelly
    2019-03-20 07:25

    ***I loved this book***Ellens father was a Reverend who dealt with depression all his life, rumor has it he may have ended his life, almost causing Ellen to end her engagement with Woodrow. Ellen thought of herself as the "woman who would never love" and was also rumored to be known as "Ellen the man hater." Ellen was a very independent woman on her own right. She attend art school and volunteered at an African American school to teach children how to read and write. Ellen was a practical, modest woman who understood that it would have been difficult for a Woman to succeed in the world of Art, which probably made it easier for her to fully support Woodrows career, as she did see value and believe in her husband, "I will be a better wife to you than I could ever have been to a smaller man....because no other but you could have inspired me with such passionate longing toward my own ideal of womanhood." Ellen was a huge help to Woodrow by studying history, political encomium and philosophy. Both of them shared the belief that they could unite in one career. However, throughout Ellen life she continued to take art classes and would take time for herself. There is no doubt that Woodrow loved Ellen however she was not the only woman that shared his affections. Woodrow met Mary Allen Hulbert Peck while visiting Bermuda. Woodrow did not hid Mary from Ellen, in fact he tried to create a rapport between the two women. Ellen claimed that Woodrow had "emotional love" for Mary and was very hurt by this. Ellen and Mary did meet, Ellen hoping that Mary seeing her in the flesh would end the infatuation but in the next few years it only intensified. Ellen decided to pass Mary off as a "family friend." Woodrow however never once said he loved Mary and it is unclear of their relationship ever became physical.During her time in the White House Edith was well-respected sometimes discussing issues without her husband as Joseph Tumulty said that she "was a better politician than you are". Ellen was the first First Lady to tour with her husband during the primary campaign trail. Ellen was not the most flashy of First Ladies that the White House has seen. A reporter once asked if Mrs. Wilson had prejudice against jewelry, as she did not own any. Ellen has no jewelry because all their money went to books, family vacations, the girls interests and the ever large amount of Family that was always in the Wilson household. Ellen did not take a public stand on the Women's Right to Vote, although the whole county looked at her too. Woodrow was not in favor of Women's right to vote and she would not publicly contradict her husband. Ellen was portrayed as the Ideal Woman of the day during her time in the White House, a woman who had her own interests but put her family first. Ellen also made history of being the first First Lady to watch her husband address the legislature. Woodrow's Mary made an appearance during the White House - at Ellen's invitation. The White House kept her illness out of the press until it couldn't be avoided. Ellen let it be known that she could die more easily if the Alley Bill was passed, it was Tumulty who brought her the news that the Senate and the House passed the bill. Ellen died of "Brights Disease" or various kidney issues. Ellen was a groundbreaking first lady - she continued to develop her skills as an Artist while her Husband was in office, she donated all proceeds from her paintings to help disadvantaged Southern Children. She is one of the very few First Ladies who earned money that is not connected with her being in the White House. Ellen was known to have said that she hoped Woodrow would re-marry. It was somewhat shocking just how fast Woodrow moved on past her death. **fun fact - both her grandmothers were slave owners and her feelings of Race seems to be quite different depending on whom you speak to.17 months after Ellen's death Woodrow Wilson married Edith Bolling Galt, an owner of a thriving jewelry store - which was also known as the "Tiffanys of D.C." Woodrow's proposal to Edith came to a shock to her, and when he first asked her she said no. Edith had no interest in politics and turned down a number of times to have seen Woodrow or to even have tea at the White House.While during the early meeting of Edith and Woodrow, Mary once again made an appearance. It was a no brainer that Woodrow didn't end up with Mary. Ending up with Mary would have caused suspicion that there was an affair between the two of them when Ellen was still alive. Woodrow did come clean to Edith regarding his affections for Mary. Edith and Mary did meet once. Edith dismissed Mary as a "faded sweet looking woman."America entered into World War I during Woodrows time in office. Edith learned to decipher the telegram messages. However, WWI was not Edith's biggest problem. Once Woodrow suffered a stroke she made choices for him, such as not resigning and to hide his illness from the World. Edith became known as "President in Petticoats." While Woodrow was in the early stages of recovery from his stroke he was known to use a flashlight to look at Ellen's picture and said that he owed everything to her. Ellen was gone, but not forgotten. Edith's decision to keep Woodrow in office was the decision that she believed he would have wanted. Edith was against Women getting the right to vote, however she was our first First Lady to vote. Their marriage was a short one. 4 1/2 years later Woodrow died at their home in Washington D.C. Edith would live another 37 years. She devoted those 37 years to Woodrow's memory with books, movies and shrines. She did on December 28th, Woodrow's birthday in the same house, same room where Woodrow himself died. Historians have called Edith the First Woman President, others have said she carried Woodrow's opinions too far. As late Edith has been ranked in the top 10 first ladies. Ellen and Edith were two different women, comparing them is hard not to because of the man they share in common. Both women were fascinating in their own rights and Woodrow benefitted from both being in his life.

  • Tk
    2019-03-28 11:23

    This is a terrific book. There is so much to learn from Ellen and Edith Wilson as First Ladies and how the role of the First Lady was shaped and impacted by them. I throughly enjoyed his book.

  • Dorothy
    2019-04-15 14:38

    What an illuminating and interesting book! Women's lives have always been complicated but these two women are remarkable in completely opposite ways. Woodrow Wilson was deeply loved but I'm not sure he deserved it. His two wives were polar opposite's and the contrast is intriguing.History books focus on President Wilson and his actions. What is truly fascinating are the wives and lover who sustained the man who claimed he could not be president without them. What is a applauded in one era is often repulsive in another. It is hard to know whether to admire or be repulsed by the choices Ellen and Edith made. Probably both. Wilson could never have been president in today's world. His character was vitally and very publicly flawed. If you enjoy true life drama put this book on your to read list.

  • Lisa of Hopewell
    2019-04-19 10:50

    Well, that's THAT questioned answered! The first Mrs. Wilson and Woodrow availed themselves of condoms! Never did I think I'd read THAT in a footnote! I think it is a shame that Woodrow was so duplicitous and disloyal and unfaithful when it was clear that he truly loved Ellen and their girls. We are all flawed, but his sweet love was so tarnished by his foolishness. I also agree with other reviewers that the first wife's part of this book was more about Woodrow and Mary than about Ellen.On to Edith....Stalled. This is a biography of Woodrow with mentions of his wives. Kind of boring now.

  • Catherine
    2019-04-15 13:41

    After visiting the Woodrow Wilson home in DC a couple of years ago, I became interested in learning more about not only Woodrow Wilson, but his wives, first Ellen and then after Ellen’s passing, Edith.The book is a bit academic in tone but provides an in-depth look into Wilson’s relationships with these two very influential, interesting, and different women.

  • Rebecca
    2019-04-01 12:48

    Sadly this is still mostly about President Wilson than it is about his two wives, its as if the author keeps forgetting that she's supposed to be writing about them. Still, it is well written and some good information is given about their lives.

  • Kevin Kosar
    2019-04-05 11:41

    I enjoyed this book---who knew Woodrow Wilson was such a passionate fellow.I reviewed it in the Weekly Standard magazine in May 2011:

  • PWRL
    2019-03-22 10:32